One day in 2009 I realised that I had become stuck in a rut of Friday outfits. Friday was and still is my one day off a week. I got up one Friday and put on a black top, black tights, denim skirt and boots and realised I pretty much had a uniform. An unintended capsule wardrobe. I never had an issue picking out an outfit. For work I had shift dresses, tops and trousers. For Fridays and weekends I had jeans, skirts and tops.
A month or so later I was packing for my annual weekend away with friends and I panicked. I had nothing to bring with me. I had no uniform for fun with friends in London. What would I wear to the theatre or for sightseeing or shopping? Nothing seemed right.
Since having children I have struggled with packing for trips for myself. For family holidays I am fine – I have my jeans and tops uniforms. But when it comes down to going away with The Bavarian or with girlfriends, I usually end up staring at an empty case in frustration just hours before I am due to depart.
Earlier this month, as I considered what to pack for my sister’s hen party, I decided to do my best to put together a capsule wardrobe. The day-to-night, suits all occasions type of thing you see in magazines. I rooted through my clothes pulling out things I like, things that don’t crease, things that are comfortable and still I panicked. So I did what all normal women so. I turned to social media. I posted my woes on Instagram. Among the many replies I got was this gem from my ultra-stylish cousin:
“I find I’m always most successful at it when I throw a few things into a bag last minute- the pressure makes me focus! And pick one colour scheme for the whole weekend, that way you can mix and match when you get there. And enjoy the weekend!”
Taking her advice, I packed and ended up with a neat case of clothing to cover every scenario from the airport to breakfast with friends to drinks with the girls to clay pigeon shooting (no, I’m not making that up).
For future reference I’ve broken that quote down into a few rules.
- Focus – OK, so yes it is handy to take into account what kind of activities will you be doing over the weekend and what will the weather be like. But quite apart from that, you still need underwear, the basic toiletries and your pjs. Get them into the case before you do anything else. Then consider the rest.
- Colour scheme – You don’t have to go all matchy-matchy but having one colour to tie your outfits together works. I went with navy, packing a dark navy wrap cardigan, a striped tee, navy suede boots, a fine navy jumper, striped navy linen skirt and a wax jacket (large country house, clay pigeon shooting, need I say more). To that I added a cream lacey tee, a teal poloneck, brown boots, two pairs of earrings, two chains, a colourful scarf and a pair of grey skinny jeans.
- Mix and match – that’s the whole idea behind a capsule wardrobe. Both pairs of boots went with the skinny jeans, the lacey tee could be worn under the cardigan or jumper, the teal poloneck went with the grey jeans just as well as it suited with the linen skirt. I could layer up for warmth or go out in a t-shirt depending on the weather and the occasion. Jewellery and a scaft allowed me to dress outfits up or down as suited.
- Enjoy – Life’s not just about clothes. The main thing is to enjoy your break away from home.
For more on my favourite looks – be it interiors, clothing, crafts or the great outdoors – you can follow me on Instagram here.